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Top Vision Foods to Include in Your Diet

By Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD
Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania

  • Expert Advice
Published on:
Senior couple at home cutting carrots with other vegetables on the counter.

Safeguarding your vision starts in the kitchen, where the choices you make can have a profound impact on the long-term health of your eyes.  

By embracing a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods, you're not only nourishing your body but also providing essential support for your vision. Studies show that people who adhere to a healthy diet have a lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  

For those who have already been diagnosed with AMD, a healthy diet could also slow disease progression. In one study, individuals at risk for macular degeneration who adhered to the Mediterranean diet had a 25% reduction in the risk of progressing from early to late AMD and almost 30% reduction in the risk of progressing from moderate to late AMD. 

Are you eating well for your vision health? Learn which foods can help you protect against eye diseases like AMD.

A Food Guide for Macular Degeneration

Fruits and Vegetables

A variety of fresh vegetables

Antioxidants found in fruits and veggies can help combat oxidative damage linked to AMD. Carotenoids (related to vitamin A), like lutein and zeaxanthin, are particularly protective. These essential protectors are found in the food items below:   

Dark Green, Yellow, and Orange Fruits and Vegetables 
Includes: Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, and kale), yellow corn, okra, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mango, green beans, lima beans, squash, green, yellow and orange bell pepper.   

Fruits and Vegetables Abundant in Vitamin C 
Includes: Green peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, leafy greens, and cantaloupe. 

Other Vitamin-Rich Foods

A carton of nine eggs.

Studies show that antioxidants like Vitamin E and B are also great for lowering your AMD risk. Here are some of the many foods you can incorporate into your diet:   

Vitamin E 
Includes: Fruit, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, nuts, nut oils, olive oil, and whole grains. 

Vitamin B
Includes: Fish, non-citrus fruit like apples, pears, and bananas; chickpeas.   

Fatty Fish

A salmon dish with vegetables.

Includes: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines 

Eating fatty fish twice a week is associated with lower AMD risk, possibly because of their omega-3 fatty acids. Fish should be grilled or broiled, not fried. When you can’t get your fish and veggies fresh, opt for making a smoothie with frozen blueberries, cocoa (also rich in antioxidants), flax or chia seeds (rich in omega-3 fatty acids), and spinach. 

Disclaimer: A large clinical trial showed that omega-3 supplements do not provide AMD protection—meaning it’s better to get this healthy fat directly from its fishy source.


Walnuts in a bowl.

Includes: Walnuts, almonds, pecans, and more.  

Nuts, especially walnuts, also contain omega-3 and some evidence suggests they may decrease AMD risk. However, nuts have lots of calories, so it’s best to limit the amount to no more than about 1/4 cup a day. 

Complex Carbohydrates

Whole grains and bread on display.

Includes: Whole-grain versions of pasta, rice, and bread 

Eating foods with a high glycemic index, like white rice, bread, and pasta, may increase the risk of developing AMD. These carbs are broken down rapidly into glucose (blood sugar), providing quick energy but lacking in nutrients and fiber. Instead, opt for whole-grain versions to take advantage of complex carbohydrates, which are metabolized more slowly and are healthier than their simple counterparts.  


Reaching for nutrient-rich foods may help protect your vision and overall health. To work these into your everyday diet, consider large salads as the main course for lunch or dinner. Garnish with relatively small amounts of animal protein, such as grilled salmon or chicken. Restaurants specializing in large made-to-order fresh salads are a great option. Asian restaurants will often make steamed vegetables with the sauce on the side as a healthy option.  

Taking care of your body is an essential part of vision health. Higher body weight and inflammation are risk factors for AMD that can be reduced by following a nutrient-rich, lower-calorie diet. This is likely to result not just in lower AMD risk, but also better overall health.  


Additional Resources:  

About BrightFocus Foundation    

BrightFocus Foundation is a premier global nonprofit funder of research to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Through its flagship research programs — Alzheimer’s Disease Research, National Glaucoma Research, and Macular Degeneration Research — the Foundation has awarded nearly $300 million in groundbreaking research funding over the past 50 years and shares the latest research findings, expert information, and resources to empower the millions impacted by these devastating diseases. Learn more at


The information provided in this section is a public service of BrightFocus Foundation, should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we make efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research.        

Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

About the Author

Headshot of Dr. Joshua Dunaief

Joshua Dunaief, MD, PhD

Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania

Joshua Dunaief, MD, received his BA magna cum laude in Biology from Harvard (1987), MD/PhD from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (1996), completed ophthalmology residency at the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins in 2000, and medical retina fellowship at Scheie Eye Institute, University of Pennsylvania in 2004.


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